Wednesday, January 8, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Starter House by Sonja Condit

Title: Starter House
Author: Sonja Condit
Genre: Paranormal/Adult Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: January 7/2014
Adquired: Print copy provided by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

In the vein of Heart-Shaped Box and The Thirteenth Tale, Starter House is a haunting and skillfully told debut novel about a newlywed couple and their first home-a home that seems to be haunted by a very malicious ghost.

Lacey Miszlak grew up homeless; her crazy mother dragged her from one terrible living situation to the next. But now she thinks the pieces of her life have finally come together. She's pregnant with her first child and she and her husband Eric have moved into the home of their dreams. She knows soon its beautiful sunlit rooms will be filled with the joy of the new family she will build there.

But there's a strange darkness on the stairway and an odd little boy who won't leave Lacey alone and soon she's forced to realize that a danger she never suspected is lurking in the hallways of her beautiful new home. She's going to have to solve a decades-old mystery to save her family from an evil that has lingered in wait for them for years.


Starter House did not waste any time when getting to the creepy. I was already shuddering about FIVE pages in. I liked this aspect, and I didn't like it. I'm always one to appreciate a good build-up, though not so much of a build-up that I end up losing interest by the time the BAM! happens. This book needed a happy middle, there was just too much happening, from too early on. By the end of Starter House, I must admit that I was a little disappointed with the "big reveal," though the ride to it was definitely one that had me biting my nails at moments.

I wouldn't place Starter House in the "horror" category, it was more of thriller, with small components of horror, or better yet, small bits of "creepy". It followed the arrival of Lacey and Eric to their new home, a house that Lacey finally deemed perfect after seeing many duds. This house at 571 Forrester Lane was a fixer-upper, but Lacey could envision the baby inside of her playing with their siblings by the staircase: happy times, a happy family home. But alas, it was not to be, as Lacey soon discovers that her "happy home" came with a disturbingly tragic past. One filled with murder, betrayal, and terrible, tangible rage.

I found it hard to get a grasp on the characters in Starter House. I felt like they were coming from 5 different places at once. Lacey was supposed to be a elementary teacher on mat leave, though the author initially creates a sense that she was this unstable, traumatized woman, who simply left work for reasons unknown. Albeit, we learn later on that she didn't come from the most happy upbringing, but I just felt like Lacey was made to sound just a bit TOO off the rails. This aspect was also portrayed even further by Lacey's arrogant, self-indulged husband Eric, who seemed to be frustrated with his wife ALL of the time, for no reason. A wife that funded his law school studies, and had been nothing but supportive and loving to him. It was almost as though there was a whole back story going on, that the author just didn't share it with us.

The saving grace for Starter House was definitely the plot line. I was COMPLETELY on board with Lacey as she played super sleuth. Each chapter, a bit more was revealed about the history of the house, and it's past, and ghostly present, occupants. I think Sonja Condit did an excellent job in creating a dark, suspenseful atmosphere. It felt like that scene in Practical Magic when Sandra Bollock comes home, and all of the house seems to be awash in dark, saturated colour. The tone of Starter House was foreboding, and had me wishing I only stuck to reading it during daytime hours. The ending of this book was a bit lackluster for me. It felt like a cop out, especially since the entire book set you up for something with a more gore.

However, I would definitely add the Starter House to your TBR list for Halloween this year, it would be a perfect creepy read for the month of October!

Recommended for Fans of: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Paranormal, House Hauntings, elements of Horror and Gore.


Sonja Condit received her MFA from Converse College, where she studied with Robert Olmstead, Leslie Pietrzyk, R. T. Smith, and Marlin Barton. Her short fiction has appeared in Shenandoah magazine, among other publications. She plays principal bassoon in the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and the Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium. She teaches at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities.

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Thank-you to Trish from TLC Book Tours for hosting this tour, and to William Morrow for sending me a print copy to review!

CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour


  1. I have to read books like this in the summer because I get creeped out way to easily!

    Thanks fro being on the tour!

  2. Sounds like the type of Gothic novels that I used to devour by the box full. Definitely, going to read this.


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